Thanks to the efforts of the Care2.com community and years of efforts by the women’s rights community, thousands of sexual assault victims may finally see justice. For the first time in almost a century, the Department of Justice revised the way the FBI defines rape, expanding the definition to include non-forcible assault and attacks on men.
“Rape is a devastating crime and we can’t solve it unless we know the full extent of it,” said Vice President Joe Biden, the author of the landmark Violence Against Women Act. “This long-awaited change to the definition of rape is a victory for women and men across the country whose suffering has gone unaccounted for over 80 years.”
The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report had defined rape as “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” The new definition takes out the requirement that an assault be “forcible” and the restriction that the attack must be toward a woman. It also now includes non-vaginal/penile rape and rape by a blood relative.
In announcing the change, Attorney General Eric Holder issued the following statement. “These long overdue updates to the definition of rape will help ensure justice for those whose lives have been devastated by sexual violence and reflect the Department of Justice’s commitment to standing with rape victims,” Holder said. “This new, more inclusive definition will provide us with a more accurate understanding of the scope and volume of these crimes.”
The change is more than just cosmetic. Police departments all across the country submit data on reported crimes and arrests to the FBI’s UCR. That data is used to measure and analyze crime trends. The old definition caused problems for law enforcement agencies because many states have a broader definition of rape. That means they couldn’t report all of the rapes they prosecuted for inclusion in federal statistics.
This is yet another example of Care2 readers coming together and making a difference. Thank you for your time and commitment to social justice. Congratulations and great work!